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Your Circuit Training Routine: Twice as Toned in Half the Time

Multitask with this firm-and-burn fast workout that combines your cardio with your strength training. You'll tone up and work off mega calories, all in less than 20 minutes.

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Jay Sullivan
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Get Results, Fast

The New Approach
Simply by upping the pace, you can shave off more inches in less time, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. In just one hour a week you'll get all the cardio and toning benefits that used to take three-plus hours (two toning sessions and five 30-minute cardio workouts).

Do the following high-intensity circuit without pausing three times through, three days a week, and you'll be showing off a sleeker body by the end of the month.

What you'll need: A pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells.

Why It Works
"All these brisk moves target both the upper and lower body, which keeps your heart and muscles stoked at the right intensity," says workout designer Michele Olson, PhD, an exercise physiologist at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama.

The Payoff
"Not only will you burn close to double the calories -- 171 versus 96 -- in less time," says Olson, "but you'll also firm everything from shoulders to calves, so you can check off your sculpting session, too."

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Squat Hop and Press

Targets: Shoulders, abs, hips, butt, and legs

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent so that weights are in front of shoulders, palms facing in.
  • Squat, keeping knees above ankles. Press into both feet to hop up, bringing right foot over to meet left and raising weights straight overhead; land standing with feet together, knees slightly bent, arms up, palms forward.
  • Quickly step right foot out to shoulder width and lower hands back to starting position.
  • Do 8 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

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Runner's Lunge

Targets: Shoulders, arms, chest, abs, butt, and legs

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand. Bend elbows 90 degrees so that forearms are parallel to floor, elbows by sides, palms in.
  • Lunge forward with right leg as you bring left hand up to shoulder level in front of you and drive right arm behind you (as you do when running).
  • Hop up and switch arms and legs to lunge forward with left leg.
  • Do 16 reps total, alternating sides.

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Speed Skater

Targets: Shoulders, back, arms, abs, butt, and legs

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms extended out to sides at shoulder level.
  • Hop straight up, landing in speed-skater position: right foot widely crossed behind left foot, knees bent, hinged slightly forward from hips, right arm crossed in front of body, left hand behind butt.
  • Hop back to starting position (feet shoulder-width apart, arms out to sides at shoulder level).
  • Switch sides; repeat. Do 16 reps total, alternating sides.

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Plie Squat Row

Targets: Back, arms, butt, and legs

  • Stand with feet more than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out slightly, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Bring weights up on either side of chest, palms facing each other, elbows tucked in and back.
  • Squat, keeping back straight and knees above ankles, and lower weights between legs.
  • Press through heels, contracting glutes to stand back up and pulling weights back to starting position at sides of chest (as if rowing).
  • Do 8 reps.

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Cheerleader Raise

Targets: Shoulders, arms, abs, and legs

  • Stand with feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, right hand on hip, a dumbbell in left hand.
  • Raise left arm diagonally to the left, palm forward.
  • Engage abs and bend left elbow and right knee so that they meet in front of you. Return to starting position.
  • Do 8 reps quickly. Switch sides; repeat.

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Kick-and-Punch Combo

Targets: Shoulders, arms, abs, butt, and legs

  • Stand with feet together, knees slightly bent, a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent near hips, weights in front of chest with palms facing each other.
  • Simultaneously kick left leg forward (really push through ball of left foot), foot flexed, and punch right arm straight forward at shoulder level, palm down.
  • Switch sides; repeat. Do 16 reps total, alternating sides.

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Plank Twist and Push-Up

Targets: Shoulders, back, arms, chest, and abs

  • Get into full push-up position (hands below shoulders, back straight, abs engaged), holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms in.
  • Lift right leg, rotate right hip and pull knee in toward left shoulder. Use a small hop to switch legs.
  • Do 4 reps total, alternating sides, and return to starting position.
  • Do a push-up.
  • Complete series 8 times.

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Step-Up and Row

Targets: Chest, abs, butt, and legs

  • Stand facing a step or low bench with a dumbbell in each hand, hands in front of thighs, palms facing you.
  • Step up with left foot as you pull weights straight up toward shoulders, with elbows higher than wrists. Lift right knee 90 degrees in front of you.
  • Step down, right foot first, and lower weights.
  • Switch sides; repeat. Do 16 reps total, alternating sides.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2009.

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What do you think? Review this slideshow!

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fuglykats wrote:

Still can't see pictures on this lot. OK on others. Please fix.

8/3/2012 01:18:16 AM Report Abuse
fuglykats wrote:

Can't get the slides - text but no pictures.

7/29/2012 03:40:39 AM Report Abuse
ninjacrepes wrote:

ditto the other trillion comments requesting that this be put into a printable format so we can take it to the gym. thanks! :)

12/21/2010 03:05:52 PM Report Abuse
gearbase wrote:

Ditto on comments suggesting you put the workouts featured on the website into a format where they can be printed! Pa-leeze?

12/6/2010 05:34:55 PM Report Abuse
gwendolyn.irvin wrote:

I like this more so than some of the others because the size and shape of these ladies in the segment I can relate to. You tend to showcase women that have bodies that are already toned.

12/2/2010 11:18:13 AM Report Abuse
deecey33 wrote:

These are great exercises. Would like to print all slides with pictures but since video you can't. Is there a way to print

2/9/2010 11:14:21 AM Report Abuse
portiawadley wrote:

I did one minute today with the dumbbells. I am a dialysis patient so I will increase the exercise by one minute per day until I reach seven minutes. You can feel every move of this exercise. One minute gave me a lot, so I am looking forward to reaching the seven minutes.

1/17/2010 09:30:17 AM Report Abuse
jmommydow wrote:

I am on day 10 of eating healthier and implimenting this working out as part of my quest to be healthy, and I have already lost 9 pounds!!! Amazing how little changes make big results.

1/7/2010 08:45:51 PM Report Abuse
wpowell8 wrote:

I want to do this workout but I can't pull it up.

11/6/2009 08:22:53 AM Report Abuse

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